WOOD RIVER JCT.—It was a slow start for the Chariho field hockey team Monday afternoon but once the goals started coming they came in bunches against Cranston East.
“Especially my forwards, they always seem to have a bit of a slow start but then once they get in that groove [they’re good],” Chariho coach Johannah LaFountain said.
“That right there shows our youth. Once they get in that groove and especially when Ari [Alfiero] starts getting a lot of condfidence with the ball she really sets the tone for the rest of the forwards.”
The Chargers failed to knock one home through the better part of the first half until Maisie Jones and Emily Louzon scored a pair of goals just 50 seconds apart to lead the Chargers to a 5-0 victory over the Thunderbolt.
While it may have taken Chariho most of the half to get on the board, it was only a matter of time until the team finally broke through given how much the Chargers dominated in the midfield.
Led by the play of senior Alexis Marsella and junior Amanda Piccozzi, Cranston East rarely crossed the Chargers’ side of center.
“Amazing,” LaFountain said of the play of her midfield. “I know that Alexis felt a little frustration in the first half because of some crowding but then we talked at halftime and I felt that she had an awesome, awesome second half.
“Amanda and Emily – especially Amanda taking it up the sideline – I mean her stick skills have just gotten amazing.”
The results led not only to domination in time of possession but in scoring opportunities as well as Chariho drew 20 penalty corners and got 17 shots on net in the course of the ball game.
The first two goals for the Chargers were a testament to their persistency as Jones – who added a second goal midway through the second half – finally broke through by redirecting a Piccozzi shot with 11:08 left until halftime.
Louzon followed 50 seconds later in similar fashion with the assist going to Alfiero.
Freshman forward Ally Bobbin had a strong game off the bench for the Chargers, intelligently lifting the ball over the left pad of East’s goalie for a score with 3:25 remaining in the first half and adding a second goal with 7:46 remaining in the game on a Louzon assist.
So far it has been a good start to the careers of both Chariho freshmen – Bobbin and sweeper Maeve Anderson – as each has played well despite LaFountain’s initial hesitance about going against her rule of allowing freshmen to play varsity.
“Maeve has come up with some big time saves at the last minute, like really, really solid. She’s just been such a strong little woman back there marking her territory, like ‘this is my goal, I’m going to really work for my goalie,’” LaFountain said.
“Every game Ally gets better and better. Today not only did she score, but she scored with what I think is authority. She knew what she was doing and it wasn’t just, ‘well I’m going to put my stick down and hopefully everything will work out.’ She took the ball, ran it in and scored twice.
“I was just talking to coach Michelle [Tebbetts] about how she has really, really proved me wrong and changed my mind about taking freshmen on varsity because I was against it.”
At 3-0-1 atop Division II-South so far this season it’s hard to argue with the Chargers’ results, particularly given that most of the team’s few returning players are in a different position than they were last season.
“[It’s been] good so far. The only regret we have so far is we wish we could get the Vets game back because we know we could have beaten them instead of just tied,” LaFountain said.
“It was our first game of the season so overall I think that the season is going a lot better than what I anticipated. I thought that we would compete but I didn’t think we’d put up numbers like we have so far.”
“…We knew coming into this season that we had the talent and the skill if we could just take out all our southern division opponents and then concentrate on those tough games up there and maybe pick off a couple that we’d be in good shape. So far they have really analyzed and not gotten frustrated or flustered and they just break stuff down and work on it.”
Of course, the Chargers haven’t had quite a challenge yet like the one they’re about to undertake in the next few weeks.
Division II-North has traditionally been the stronger of the two divisions the past few years and that doesn’t appear to be any different this season.
Chariho will start the crossover portion of its schedule Thursday at 4 p.m. when it hosts traditional D-II power Burrillville. The Chargers will follow that up with matches at Smithfield Monday at 4 p.m. and at home against unbeaten La Salle Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
“Burrillville, Smithfield and La Salle will be a huge test,” LaFountain said. “A huge, huge test.”